Senior Sanctuary: alzheimer's frequent asked questions and support.




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Alzheimer's Disease, Care and FAQs

What are some of the Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms?

Some symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease are:

Are there facilities especially for people with Alzheimer's?

Many nursing homes have designated areas or units exclusively for people with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias. These special care units (SCUs) have become common, based on the idea that those residents with dementia require specialized care that may not be routinely available in nursing homes.

The goal of SCUs are to provide an environment that enhances individualized care and effective approaches to difficult behaviors often associated with dementia. Characteristics of SCUs may include specially selected, trained and supervised staff, specifically designed activities, family involvement, and a physical design that promotes mobility and enjoyment. SCUs are diverse in nature. There are no state regulations governing what constitutes an SCU. However, Illinois law requires facilities that advertise that they have SCUs must disclose details about their programs.

Although there are no other regulatory policies covering SCUs, concerns about quality led to the development and implementation of a set of standards for SCUs by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving quality of care in a variety of healthcare settings. Since 1994, nursing homes have been able to voluntarily submit to a survey process for SCUs using specific standards in hopes of getting accredited by the Joint Commission. The nursing homes in northeastern Illinois, which have met the Joint Commission's standards for SCUs, are highlighted on the attached list, which also includes those nursing homes that report having SCUs, but lack Joint Commission accreditation status. Again, the characteristics of these SCUs will vary depending on the particular nursing home's level of commitment instead of compliance with any set of standards. It should also be noted that this list is not comprehensive and we will make additions and deletions to the list whenever we become aware of any changes.

The Alzheimer's Association has published a helpful guide and checklist for families seeking to choose an appropriate nursing home. We recommend that this inexpensive booklet be purchased through the Association's local chapter by calling (847) 933-1000. Ask for a copy of Family Guide for Residential Settings.

What do I look for in a Special Care Unit (SCU)?

Some of the specific characteristics to look for in SCUs are:

  1. A structured routine for residents.
  2. How much time the staff takes to gather specific lifestyle information about your loved one in order to individually cater to his/her needs.
  3. Comfortable, familiar and safe surroundings; ask what is done to ensure safety
  4. Compassionate staff.
  5. Activities that reflect the routines that each individual resident has established over a lifetime.
  6. Activities that help people succeed at familiar tasks, whether it is making their bed or baking cookies. (These activities can help give the person a feeling of satisfaction and productivity.)
  7. What is offered for outdoor activities, such as secured walking paths, waist-high gardening boxes for people to do their own gardening (so the person doesn't have to bend over).
  8. Staff's ability to deal with difficult situations and behaviors; give examples and ask how they deal with them.
  9. How wandering is handled.

What questions should I ask?

Below are some of the questions you might want to ask a staff representative when investigating whether an assisted-living facility is right for you or your loved one. This list is meant as a guide; since each person's situation is different, you may need to tailor the questions to better fit your needs, or add others.

How much does assisted living cost?

Costs range from $1,500 to $4,000 per month, depending on the facility's licensing, location, services, and care options. Find out about fees when you call.

How do I pay for my Alzheimer's needs?

Although some services or Alzheimer's facilities accept state funding (Medicaid), Alzheimer's services are ordinarily paid for privately. If you need help paying for Alzheimer's services, go to our financing section.